Forced Out Of The Closet

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Dear KitschMix,

I have been dating this girl for 18 months now. We both recently graduated university, and we are both each other’s firsts – relationship, kissing, sex, pretty much everything. I have been out of the closet for probably a year (yay), with no issues from my parents. Recently, her parents (her mother specifically) noticed we were more than just “gal pals”.

She confronted her about it, and she admitted to being bisexual. Her mother was very disappointed, and right around this time her father was admitted into the hospital major heart surgery.

Her mother also told her that she was the cause of some of his heart problems, as they traced a heart attack a few weeks back to when she had mentioned the possibility of her daughter being gay.

Immediately my girlfriend was hurt by this – they are a heavily conservative family, and she hadn’t planned on coming out until she was living on her own and ready to.

I didn’t know what to do, but I offered as much support as I could. It has been about two weeks since this all happened, but I am still unsure what to do next. She asked me to meet with her parents, but I don’t know what will happen? She is having a tough time with it, as she hasn’t been able to really sit down and talk about it with her parents since her father’s hospitalization. Where do we go from here?

Hi reader, and thanks for writing in! It actually breaks my heart that this is still a problem we have in our modern, civilized society. I grew up in a “broken home” myself, with one parent being super gay-friendly (coincidentally the one I’ve recently moved back in with) and one parent who was gay-accepting, but not too fond of me being gay. Thankfully, it still wasn’t a big issue for me, but the reality is that – for some people – it is still actually dangerous to come out.

With your girlfriend, the first thing I’d like to say is that her mom is sort of a jerk. It’s highly unlikely that her “outing” your girlfriend was the cause of his heart problems, and it is entirely unfair of her to say that. Possibly, the stress of his conservative values being challenged was enough to exacerbate an existing condition, but I’m pretty sure no one has ever actually had a heart attack just because their kid ended up being gay/bi/whatever. (Please, if I’m wrong, someone drop a link in the comments and I’ll check it out as soon as possible.)

It sucks being outed against your will. I’ve had it done by coworkers, friends, and one specific cousin. I’ve even done it to someone who was a good friend, when I was in denial about my own sexuality (not something I’m proud of, but I was 13 at the time, and we have since made up). It sucks extra when it’s someone who’s supposed to be there for you no matter what. Even my well-meaning gay-loving parent has outed me on occasion, without meaning any harm at all – in some situations where I kind of wanted to use my invisibility to my advantage. I’ve even had a family member who shamed me into staying in the closet – afraid of how it would reflect on them if the word got out. None of these are right, but once they’re done, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

There’s no way to tell what’s going to happen when you meet with her parents, but I agree with her – you probably should. Sitting down with them both, together, and explaining concisely why her sexuality is not a direct affront to the good conservative values they raised her with might help. Some people actually respond well to logic, and I’ve known a few people who – after an initially bad reaction – have come around to be the most gay-friendly people on the planet. There are no guarantees, but it could help.

Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll still have the opportunity to explain to them that you love their daughter, and that you supported her decision to remain in the closet. I’d also mention that it’s in poor taste to discuss someone’s sexuality behind their back in a negative way. Some people think that it’s rude to wonder, too, but I personally think it’s OK to make guesses and speculations as long as you’re aware that it’s really none of your business and you have no right to assume anything.

My next question for you is, does she have a safe place she can go, if it comes to that? I wouldn’t necessarily have her move out of her parents’ place right away, unless a need to do so arises, but it might be helpful to start thinking of her options before your sit-down chat – just in case. If you two are interested in living together for reasons other than necessity, this might be the push to do it – but you shouldn’t move in together just to fix a residence issue, trust me. Multiple bad experiences there. (My apologies if I misread this, and you two are already living together – I don’t think you specifically stated.)

I wish you the best of luck with your conversation, and if you need any more advice, please don’t hesitate to write in again! Take care, and give your girlfriend a hug for me!

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